Know Your Numbers
Most Australians have an understanding of their health numbers, such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol, fasting blood glucose and body mass index and understand the consequences if numbers are too high and how and when to mitigate their risks.
It is equally important to be aware of your eye health numbers and what the risk could include. For example high eye pressure can be an indication of Glaucoma which can cause irreversible vision loss due to damage to the optic nerve. The loss of sight is usually gradual and a considerable amount of peripheral (side) vision may be lost before there is an awareness of any problem. Glaucoma Australia describes intraocular pressure (IOP) as “normal” if anywhere between 10 and 21 mmHg (eye pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury just like blood pressure). Early detection and treatment can save sight. For information on vision aids that might suit, Glaucoma Australia recommends contacting Quantum RLV on 1300 883 853.
Family history plays an important role in the development of glaucoma as it does in developing macular degeneration. One in seven people over the age of 50 have signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). If you are over 50 years of age it is important to have a macula check as part of your eye examination, as early detection is crucial to saving sight. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, good nutrition and exercise are positive actions you can take.
If you have diabetes and you’re over 50, you have a one in three chance of having diabetic retinopathy. Knowing your risks, and having regular macula checks, is the only way to protect your vision.
What is low vision
A loss of sharpness or acuity can be the first signs of low vision. It may also present as a loss of field of vision, light sensitivity, distorted vision or a loss of contrast.
A person is said to have low vision when their eyesight is limited or impaired and
cannot be adequately corrected with surgery, conventional glasses or contact lenses.
Low vision can affect people of all ages and have an impact on many aspects of their life. It may cause problems with reading, using the computer, dialling the telephone, and watching TV.
Low vision is measured by distance visual acuity. When a person has normal vision their visual acuity is rated 6/6 or 20/20. This rating indicates that the person can read the letters on an eye chart, which is designed to be seen at a distance of six metres or twenty feet away. A person is said to have low vision when they see fewer letters on the eye chart from this distance. For example, if your vision is measured as 6/24, this means that you can see at 6 metres what a normal eye is expected to see at 24 metres.
Low vision solutions
Losing your vision is a challenge that faces many older Australians.
For those affected it can mean the loss of many daily living and recreational activities that are central to a healthy and independent lifestyle. We can help you with assessment, advice, products and support.
Knowing your risks, and having eye health checks every 2 years, is the only way to protect your vision visit www.glaucoma.org.au for further details.